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Disgraced judge is fired

Disgraced: This series of photos shows justice Ahmad Yamani reacting as a member of the Judges’ Ethics Council reads out his verdict at the Supreme Court in Jakarta on Tuesday. Yamani was dishonorably discharged for unprofessional conduct when handling an appeal filed by a drug convict. JP/Ricky Yudhistira
Disgraced: This series of photos shows justice Ahmad Yamani reacting as a member of the Judges’ Ethics Council reads out his verdict at the Supreme Court in Jakarta on Tuesday. Yamani was dishonorably discharged for unprofessional conduct when handling an appeal filed by a drug convict. JP/Ricky Yudhistira

After atempting to escape punishment, controversial Supreme Court justice Ahmad Yamani was dishonorably discharged from his position on Tuesday for commuting a sentence handed down to a drug czar.

The disgraced Yamani is the first Supreme Court justice in the country to be dismissed for wrongdoing.

Despite the critical mistake by Yamani — commuting a convict’s jail sentence — the Judges’ Ethics Council ruled against him for an ethics violation.

“We decided to fire him after finding him guilty of breaching the ethics code of honesty,” Judges’ Ethics Council member Suparman Marzuki said in Jakarta on Tuesday.

Aside from losing his job dishonorably, Yamani’s pension and other state benefits will be stopped.

Yamani, along with fellow judges Imron Anwari and Nyak Pha, made headlines in October over their controversial ruling to reduce the sentence of Hengky Gunawan, a drug lord, from capital punishment to only 15 years in prison.

The ruling generated a public outcry as people across the country questioned the Supreme Court’s sense of justice.

Hengky was arrested in 2006 for possessing 11.1 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine, locally known as shabu-shabu, which was valued at Rp 10.8 billion (US$1.12 million), along with items for the drug’s production. Hengky was also accused of operating a drug laboratory in Surabaya, East Java.

In November, however, the media found that Hengky’s official verdict document stated that he was to be jailed for 12 years instead of 15.

The Supreme Court and the Judicial Commission formed an ad hoc council to investigate the allegation.

The council found that Yamani himself had altered Hengky’s 15 year jail term to 12 years by hand on the draft verdict. A registrar then made an official verdict document based on Yamani’s handwriting.

The council deemed that Yamani deserved to be punished because he had been dishonest, undisciplined and unprofessional in carrying out his job as a judge. Yamani had tried to escape punishment by tending his resignation.

Yamani had come under the spotlight for several controversial rulings, including the annulling of a 17-year sentence against drug dealer Naga Sariawan Cipto Rimba, alias Liong-Liong, in May last year. He also helped annul at least three drug convicts’ death sentences.

Suparman said the public should praise the Supreme Court because it had cooperated thoroughly in the investigation of its judge.

“All government institutions should take the Supreme Court as an example when dealing with officials who are allegedly involved in malpractice scandals,” he said.

Judicial Commission spokesman Asep Rahmat Fajar said he hoped the council’s decision would restore people’s trust in judicial institutions.

“The verdict shows that even a Supreme Court judge can be punished. Let’s hope that this will give momentum to the reforming of our judiciary,” Asep said.

Supreme Court spokesman Djoko Sarwoko was less enthusiastic about the council’s decision. “It is up to the public whether they view us [the Supreme Court] positively or not.”

Asep added that the National Police could continue investigating Yamani’s court document forgery case, as the Judicial Commission would soon be providing additional evidence on the disgraced former justice.

The commission is set to review the role played by his two colleagues.

“The commission will soon start an investigation into the other judges involved at Hengky’s trial. But, we have yet to decide whether or not they will be brought to the same ad hoc ethics council,” Asep said. (riz)

Ahmad Yamani

Place/Date of Birth: Birayang, South Kalimantan/March 8, 1945

Education:

* Graduate from Lambung Mangkurat University, South Kalimantan, 1979

* Master of Law from IBLAM University, 2003

Career:

* District court judge (1982-1996)

* Chairman of district court (1996-2005)

* High court judge at Manado High Court, North Sulawesi (2005-2008)

* High court judge at Denpasar High Court, Bali (2008-2009)

* Deputy chairman of Banjarmasin High Court, South Kalimantan (2009-2010)

* Supreme Court justice (2010-2012)

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